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Restaurants committed to food safety
By Li Jing (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-06-09 22:38

Forty Beijing restaurants took a proactive step Wednesday to ward off food poisoning, a growing problem during sizzling summer days.

The group of long-standing traditional Chinese restaurants signed a joint commitment to ensure food safety.

These restaurants, mainly located in Xicheng District, will also take the lead in the city's catering circle to introduce an international hygiene management system, Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP), in their daily operation.

Restaurant owners say a lack of effective supervision and management could be behind more frequent cases of food poisoning in Beijing and other parts of the country.

HACCP is a preventive process control system which identifies and monitors critical control points in food production, storage and transportation to guarantee the safety of the final product, said Cai Changjing, an official with the Beijing Health Supervisory Office.

The restaurants that have signed up for the programme include many century-old ones such as Kaorouji, Youyishun and Tongheju.

Cai noted that the cooking skills required for many Chinese dishes are complicated and often varied, particularly considering the number of different chefs.

"So it is a tough job to set up the system and determine the critical control points in cooking."

He said he believed introducing HACCP would facilitate the supervision over the food industry and help re-build people's faith in food safety.

Deng Ying, an official with the Beijing Health Bureau, said the city plans to spread the HACCP system to the whole food industry such as dairy products, meat, frozen food, moon cakes and beverages.

Besides promoting the HACCP system, the municipal health authorities will also spread a selective control system on hotels and restaurants citywide.

The system has four grades from A to D based on hygiene conditions.

Hotels and restaurants that are at low risk of food contamination and poisoning will get A-grade certification, while those classified as D will be ordered to suspend business and clean up their act.

The grades are clear and easy to understand. Clients can easily recognize the hygiene conditions of a restaurant or a hotel when the grade certifications are hung up in the lobby, said Deng.

The system was first adopted last year in Beijing by 57 food businesses that provide meals to primary and middle school students.

Deng noted that HACCP verification is a must for Chinese food products to enter North America and western European countries, and the implementation of HACCP would boost Chinese companies' exports.

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